Since its creation, hip-hop has been a lightning rod of controversy. From 2 Live Crew to NWA, hip-hop has been used as low-hanging fruit on the scapegoat tree, calling it out for its sometimes violent and misogynist lyrics. It's true that the genre isn't perfect, but is it also the cause of the host of problems in the hood? Ashley Judd seems to think so.
The actress and AIDS activist came out hard against hip-hop and its “rape culture” in her new memoir All That is Bitter and Sweet. Calling out the genre for misogynist lyrics, she goes on to call out YouthAIDS, a global AIDS awareness group for recruiting Snoop Dogg and Diddy to help to get the word out about the disease.
“Along with other performers, YouthAIDS was supported by rap and hip-hop artists like Snoop Dogg and P. Diddy to spread the message…um, who? Those names were a red flag.” Judd then goes on to chastise hip-hop for reinforcing gender constructs that sexualize women and says it “is the root cause of poverty and suffering around the world.”
Um, really? Yes, it's true that neither Snoop Dogg or Diddy should be given an award for their portrayal or treatment of women. But should they be prohibited from lending their voices to a good cause? Snoop and Diddy possess huge influence in those communities that she's trying to reach.
According to Avert.org, Blacks accounted for 52 percent of new cases of AIDS although they only accounted for 12 percent of the population. The Centers for Disease Control reports that in 2011, 1 in 16 Black males run the risk of contracting HIV while 1 in 30 Black women are at risk. With statistics like that, petty quibbles on who should deliver the message seems to be counterproductive.
While poverty, illness, and violence are prevalent in urban areas, those societal problems aren't necessarily the product of hip-hop. Many an artist will tell you that their music is a reflection of the environment in which they were raised. Is it wrong for a hip-hop artist to want to help improve the world around them? If it is, maybe Diddy should stop encouraging young entrepreneurs and maybe Snoop should stop helping out with the Pop Warner League around his way. Maybe he should stop raising money for Japan, which is trying to recover from the devastating earthquake.
It's very easy to sit in judgment of a culture that you might not relate to or understand, but in the grand scheme of things, a helping hand is a helping hand.
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